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Jmarmck
15-Feb-2015, 15:11
In this digital oriented day it is possible to do almost anything to an image.
This is fine and dandy but I have an ethics question.
It is more about opinions.

I scan a neg. I use some software to remove dust, hair and other imperfections.
I cannot imagine anyone getting bent about these actions but I guess there are a few.

I took a shot of a rock in early morning light. It was really nice in color and composition, good enough that I would consider a larger print.
The image was taken with digital camera but that really does not matter here.
Behind the rock and between the rock behind that was a single power pole. While taking the shot I was mentally working out why someone would place the pole in such a difficult spot. Then again I have seen worse idiocy. Basically, the pole ruined the shot. The ability to remove the pole is there. It can be removed with tools so good that only a digital algorithm could find evidence of tinkering.

Here is the question: Do you consider it unethical to remove such objects changing the photo where it no longer represents reality?
Where would you draw the line?

While driving across the SW this last trip, I found there were power lines in some otherwise exceptional landscapes. Would you bypass such a scene even though those power lines can be easily removed?

What about adjusting latitude errors in an image, increase/decreasing foreground/background exposure/tones/textures? What about simpler sharpening?

Just curious how you would feel about such modifications.

mdarnton
15-Feb-2015, 15:35
I would be interested in hearing your argument that removing the pole is unethical. And then I would like to hear you attack the entire fields of art and painting for not being 100% literal renditions of reality. Was it unethical, then, for Leonardo to have painted the Mona Lisa with a background that most certainly was not present behind her?

Kirk Gittings
15-Feb-2015, 15:50
Photography has a relationship to real situations that other art mediums do not. That is part of its unique power. Having said that it has become a very plastic medium easily manipulated. Photography IMHO as a recording medium should always have been suspect. Because I choose to point my camera a particular small pretty area in a vast boring landscape and give it value does that mean it is representative of the whole area? Should I not photograph the boring areas too? Is b&w authentic in an age when color is so readily available.

Virtually every choice we make from loading film on involves some intent to edit reality. Only you can determine where to draw YOUR line. Ethics only come into play if you misrepresent what you have done.

djdister
15-Feb-2015, 16:34
Associating ethics with artistic expression is potentially a false assertion. Alternatively, if one asserts that a photographic representation is unaltered when something has been deliberately altered, whether digitally or optically, then that person is being unethical.

Jmarmck
15-Feb-2015, 17:47
So anything goes as long as it is not misrepresented. But in the end who would care that the pole was removed?

I dunno, for some reason it feels almost like cheating removing that pole or reducing the intensity of the sky to balance the image.
But, I absolutely hate the idea of letting an image go because there is a line (or two or three) of power poles across the scene.
I ran into a lot of this on the trip. I never really considered how many transmission likes there really are until they were effecting how I framed the shot.....in many instances unsuccessfully. We are talking driving miles down a dirt trail to just beyond the nearest pole. The other one is fences. I don't know how much time I wasted trying to get the fence out of the scene.

To accept that these obstacles are there and not let them influence the composition then remove in post edit would make things easier.
I am just trying to come to terms with this.

Wasn't there some group (f64?) that would have disapproved of this. I seem to remember AA and his group at odds with the other.

gregmo
15-Feb-2015, 18:24
I don't see it to be an issue as long as you are honest about it to those who inquire about such aspects of the editing process.
I frequently remove unwanted people, construction equipment & other objects. If shooting in a large city, it's tough to get things completely unobstructed.

jnanian
15-Feb-2015, 19:06
Photography has a relationship to real situations that other art mediums do not. That is part of its unique power. Having said that it has become a very plastic medium easily manipulated. Photography IMHO as a recording medium should always have been suspect. Because I choose to point my camera a particular small pretty area in a vast boring landscape and give it value does that mean it is representative of the whole area? Should I not photograph the boring areas too? Is b&w authentic in an age when color is so readily available.

Virtually every choice we make from loading film on involves some intent to edit reality. Only you can determine where to draw YOUR line. Ethics only come into play if you misrepresent what you have done.

hi kirk

i couldn't agree more with what you said ... but i would put this one step further and say no matter what a photographer does, he or she misrepresents reality.
our eyes do not see in fractions of seconds or in multi second "exposures" we see in a fluid context ... and burning, dodging, forget reality ...

=== Jmarmck

people with cameras have been manipulating images since they learned how to .. back in the 1830s.
i have a book somewhere in my shelf that gives step by step instructions on how to remove braces from
a client's teeth using leads on a negative. removing blemishes, smoothing skin, fixing laugh lines/crows feet
its all been part of a photographer's bag of trix for a long time .. and that doesn't even include making a portrait of
someone that shows them in a different light that people don't even recognize as the person who was photographed ...

i am not sure where ethics comes into play ... its all personal choices i suppose.

Jim Jones
15-Feb-2015, 19:34
To respect the subject in situ, any corrections should be restricted to those necessary to present the subject as it actually was. This may be necessary for legal or scientific reasons. However, most of us have the freedom to be photographers, not lawyers or scientists when behind the camera. Then the finished photograph justifies whatever is needed to fulfill our vision.

Iluvmyviewcam
15-Feb-2015, 20:59
OP. I have removed water bottles and things like you mention. I am not hired to shoot social doc photography, I do as my art and I do as I please.

Where I draw the line is composites of different images. Don't know how to do em, nor would I. Generally as long as the mod does not material affect the image I will do it.

ic-racer
15-Feb-2015, 21:22
Ethics doesn't exist in the digital domain...

Jmarmck
15-Feb-2015, 22:25
Ethics doesn't exist in the digital domain...
lol you got that right.

Light Guru
16-Feb-2015, 00:10
The ethics of it depend on the purpose of image. If you are doing photojournalism then yes it would be unethical, but if you are doing art photography then it's not.

Digital has nothing to do with it. People have been manipulating photographs sense the beginning of photography.

Randy Moe
16-Feb-2015, 00:33
No art rules, or is it there are no rules to art.

Forensic photography is probably the only place we cannot lie and cheat, or not.

Winners write history...

cyrus
16-Feb-2015, 01:22
Unless youre a news or documentary photographer there is ethical issue.

Back in the 1970s there was a huge debate over whether cropping was unethical. That's was in the days of naivete, when we believed in truth and objectivity in photography.

Seems like photography as an art form has always been saddled with this expectation that it is supposed to show reality more objectively than any other art form, perhaps to its detriment as an artform

Doremus Scudder
16-Feb-2015, 02:24
... Ethics only come into play if you misrepresent what you have done.

+1

I think this happens more than we realize, and often at a very subtle level. Many would have you believe that those vibrant, over-saturated colors were really there...

To the OP: my personal approach leaves no room for major manipulations such as removing power poles, etc. The challenge is in choosing point of view and framing the subject That said, I'll happily retouch out a too-white leaf or stray gum wrapper in a photo (they could just as easily have not been there) and I often do a little "weeding" and cleaning up of a scene before shooting. This latter is really a bit of manipulation pre-exposure.

Ask yourself what and why you are communicating and the question of whether manipulations such as you describe are misrepresentations will become clearer.

Best,

Doremus

welly
16-Feb-2015, 06:01
Who are you cheating? If you feel that its unethical to remove a pole or a bollard or whatever from your image, then don't do it. I guess the context of the image you are making is what counts. If it's for yourself, do what you feel is valid. If you're making an exhibition on "Rocks in a Pole Free Land", then you may have to think twice about it.

Louie Powell
16-Feb-2015, 06:35
This is a very old argument. When George Tice was making his classic New Jersey urban landscapes back in the 60's and 70's, he bragged about the number of cigarette butts he spotted out of his prints. Collectors screamed that he was distorting reality, and then paid enormous amounts to own those same prints.

mdarnton
16-Feb-2015, 06:59
All of the recent hoopla around editing has centered on journalists wanting to maintain the polite fiction that what they do is unbiased. How well is that concept working on you guys?

Christopher Barrett
16-Feb-2015, 07:11
Not surprisingly my viewpoint is very similar to Kirk's. It's only unethical if you have a statement next to your print reading "This is a factual account of this subject at the precise moment of exposure." Mind you that statement would be a lie. There is NO factual, unbiased account of any subject. There are no impartial photographers. We all project our background, our beliefs and our esthetic sensibilities upon every image we make.

Furthermore, if you keep up with where Art is really at in the world today, this discussion became entirely irrelevant at least a decade ago.

Here is a photo of mine from Monument Valley.

http://christopherbarrett.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/121001_IQ160_1678-1.jpg

The sky is from one exposure. The light on the far cliffs from another. And the light on the low, midground rocks another. I sat there for hours getting everything I wanted for this image. Is the result a factual depiction of what happens naturally in this environment? Do I care? No and no.

What's the more valid approach: the image by a photographer who happens to snap a singluar image at just the right time or the one by a shooter who's willing to dedicate half a day to getting the image he envisions as a final piece?

Either! Both! Whatever. Just do what feels right. Go with your instincts and forget the rules. Otherwise, you're just making someone else's art.

</rant>

CB

Bruce Barlow
16-Feb-2015, 07:17
What would a painter have done? Not painted the offending elements, and we wouldn't think twice.

Bob Salomon
16-Feb-2015, 07:37
No art rules, or is it there are no rules to art.

Forensic photography is probably the only place we cannot lie and cheat, or not.

Winners write history...

Choice of angles, focal length and lighting can certainly enter into manipulation of forensic evidence.

Jmarmck
16-Feb-2015, 07:38
Chris, I don't have the knowledgebase to do such mosaics. Instead, I find myself "waiting for the sun", for that one shot I know is coming. At least I can visualize it and successfully capture the image....for the most part.

Here is the finished shot of the boulder without the pole
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7388/16539418812_d1d8858f54_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/rcwQZj)013_5828-2k (https://flic.kr/p/rcwQZj) by jmarmck (https://www.flickr.com/people/127213211@N06/), on Flickr

no this is not a LF shot. I did not wait on this one either. I spotted it in the evening sun the day before and captures it in the morning sun the next day.

But here is an interesting concept of this. I was at the southern end of the Monument Valley loop up on the dunes. I notice that many of the plants had a blue cast to them. I thought this odd and it made for some very interesting attempts to capture these colors. But when I processed the film/images the plants were the usual browns/greys/greens. It was bit of a WTF moment till I figured that the persistent cast of rust color from the rocks, dirt and sand caused my perception to account for the excess red by nullifying the red causing the plants to appear a bluish. It would have made for some interesting photographs but it was impossible to capture. I tried several times over three days.

So given that, I would agree with the statements that the mere act of looking, much less photographing, lessens the authenticity of a depiction.
Perhaps adding the word ethics into the title and OP was inappropriate. But I was looking for opinions on how people feel about such manipulations.

Jac@stafford.net
16-Feb-2015, 08:43
The ethics of it depend on the purpose of image. If you are doing photojournalism then yes it would be unethical, but if you are doing art photography then it's not.

Agreed. In fact, a number of news photographers have been fired for manipulating photos. Some AP (http://www.poynter.org/news/mediawire/138728/ap-drops-freelance-photographer-who-photoshopped-his-shadow-out-of-image/) and NPPA rules are particularly strident.

Before digital was common; remembering Kent State:

lfpf
16-Feb-2015, 15:54
Photography is a representation or misrepresentation, a method subject to intentions. Advertising? If altered, then not forensic evidence. If unaltered, the photograph is admissible as forensic evidence, a true representation, art, a snapshot, suitable for framing, suitable for measurement and that's all I have to say about that.

cyrus
16-Feb-2015, 16:12
Unless youre a news or documentary photographer there is NO ethical issue.
is what I mean

cyrus
16-Feb-2015, 16:15
The sky is from one exposure. The light on the far cliffs from another. And the light on the low, midground rocks another.


Wow that's amazing. It has a mildly disconcerting effect, like an alien landscape

lfpf
16-Feb-2015, 18:20
Presented above are plenty well considered perspectives. Ethics involve intentions, perceptions, deceit, deception, accuracy and truth, right and wrong.

A good looking photograph, regardless of technique, are good for both the client with an otherwise empty wall and photographer. No deceit, no misrepresentation, no intentional fooling, no harm, no foul, no problem, no ethical issue, even if trade secrets are not revealed.

A good looking photograph, regardless of technique, are derelict, unethical, wrong, possibly criminal when deception is the photographer's or editor's intention. It's a lie, intentionally deceptive, harmful, problematic and an ethical issue.

Crime scene alterations, desert real estate with an imported branch held in the frame or oasis p-shopped into frame . . . know what you're looking at, know your photographer, know your photo editor and don't over-think it. Refine your craft and do your best because no one else will do your best for you.

Live it up.

civich
17-Feb-2015, 06:41
Ethics doesn't exist in the digital domain...

But it does, apparently, for some. Today from the NY Times:

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/17/world-press-photo-manipulation-ethics-of-digital-photojournalism/?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Kodachrome25
17-Feb-2015, 11:20
Only you can determine where to draw YOUR line.

Agreed.

I personally employ a photojournalistic ethic in all my work, that includes landscapes...I just see far too much computer fantasy out there and want no part of it. I had a heck of a time last Spring finding compositions on the Lake Tahoe shoreline that did not include a boat, buoy or person. One particular shot I worked on had a buoy in the upper left corner and I could not get rid of it and keep what I thought was the best arrangement. So I changed the composition and low and behold, came up with an even better shot in the process of getting rid of the buoy.

It just feels *really* good to never have that come in to question or be part of the equation when selling my work and instead of suffering from that self imposed limitation, I think my work is improved because of it, as do others.

Others obviously feel differently....

Jac@stafford.net
17-Feb-2015, 11:36
Agreed.

I personally employ a photojournalistic ethic in all my work, that includes landscapes...[...]

You are in good company. I kept this from an earlier read.


..from the Executive Editor of Photography at National Geographic magazine about their contest:

Please submit photographs that are un-manipulated and real, and that capture those special moments in time. The world is already full of visual artifice, and we don’t want the National Geographic Photography Contest to add to it. We want to see the world through your eyes, not the tools of Photoshop or setup photography.

jp
17-Feb-2015, 11:42
http://www.pressherald.com/2013/09/18/down-east-magazine-alters-cover-photo/

is a local scuffle about this topic. Seems to be, if it's for journalistic use, a lack of post-editing, as preferred by the purists, remains correct. Lying about use of editing is a certain failure these days with so much geotagged free photos online with flickr, instagram, google street view, and everyone with a camera.

For pure art, I don't care what other people do.

Personal logic for me is, I think if you post-edit a photo to make it more beautiful, perhaps you failed to make it as beautiful as possible at the time of capture, Kodachrome's example shows this. I think that's an issue of craft and aesthetics more than ethics.

Randy Moe
17-Feb-2015, 11:42
So nobody burns in and nobody dodges.


Baloney.

I prefer Mortensen to a pack of written and verbal mistruths.

Kirk Gittings
17-Feb-2015, 11:46
So nobody burns in and nobody dodges.


Baloney.



:)

jp
17-Feb-2015, 11:46
Nothing wrong with dodging and burning. I just feel like a failure if I make a photo and it has a misplaced wire or pole in it that I should have seen when I was preparing to take it. The opposite trend is the "photobomb" I posit there is no such thing as a photobomb, only a photographer not paying attention to what's in the frame.

Kirk Gittings
17-Feb-2015, 11:55
so I guess we all have our own personal concepts of venal and mortal sins when it comes to photo manipulation...........

Kodachrome25
17-Feb-2015, 12:06
My self imposed rules apply to me only, it in part creates the very fabric of why I make photographs, how I make them and what I percieve them to be. I used to care a lot more about what other people did to their photos post exposure but I found as the free-for-all mentality of computer software took over, I was going to either let it drive me nuts or I would just forget about it and not be a part of it.

My life in particular is *much* improved by staying true to my self, for my reasons.
That's ok.....right?

Kirk Gittings
17-Feb-2015, 12:13
Criticism of the “truth claim”[edit]
Sontag challenges the “presumption of veracity” associated with photographs, arguing that they are “as much an interpretation of the world as paintings and drawings are”. She describes the role of the photographer in determining the exposure, light, texture and geometry of a photograph.[28]

Gunning points to the physicality of the camera as a mediator between the photograph and reality. He notes that the use of a lens, film, a particular exposure, kind of shutter, and developing process “become magically whisked away if one considers the photograph as a direct imprint of reality”.[29]

Sontag also describes the inability of a photograph to capture enough information about its subject to be considered a representation of reality. She states, “the camera’s rendering of reality must always hide more than it discloses…only what which narrates can make us understand”.[30]

Further, Roland Barthes notes that the human subject can be made less real through the process of being photographed. He notes, “once I feel myself observed by the lens, everything changes: I constitute myself in the process of ‘posing’, I instantaneously make another body for myself, transform myself in advance into an image”.[31][32]

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_claim_%28photography%29

Kirk Gittings
17-Feb-2015, 12:19
http://www.nicolafocci.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Ansel-Adams-with-straight-and-fine-print-of-Moonrise.jpg

just some burning, dodging, a little negative intensification in the foreground, and a higher grade of paper.......................................and wallah........you have "straight photography".

Randy Moe
17-Feb-2015, 12:22
My self imposed rules apply to me only, it in part creates the very fabric of why I make photographs, how I make them and what I percieve them to be. I used to care a lot more about what other people did to their photos post exposure but I found as the free-for-all mentality of computer software took over, I was going to either let it drive me nuts or I would just forget about it and not be a part of it.

My life in particular is *much* improved by staying true to my self, for my reasons.
That's ok.....right?

We all make reality changing imaging choices all the time, whether conscious or not. Filters, ISO, focus, DOF, SS, resolution, film or digital many choices are made with any 'un-manipulated' image.

You have a good sales plan, and you tell us about it all the time. Nothing wrong at all about that either. Good for you!

Purity is an illusion.

Randy Moe
17-Feb-2015, 12:28
http://www.nicolafocci.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/ansel-adams-with-straight-and-fine-print-of-moonrise.jpg

just some burning, dodging, a little negative intensification in the foreground, and a higher grade of paper.......................................wallah........"straight photography".

lol

Jmarmck
17-Feb-2015, 12:44
Now we are getting somewhere with this! Great!

Well, I don't feel too guilty about removing the power poll from behind the rock. But I got to thinking that leaving it in may be a statement in and of itself. I will mull this over. It annoys me that I did not consider this while taking the image.

A thought about digital tho. Any digital camera worth its muster provides the ability to change color balance, exposure, sharpness and contrast BEFORE the RAW is ever taken. Unless these presets are recorded in the RAW no one will ever know.

From my perspective the reason my photography is to invoke a response from the viewer. It is not a documentary or a legal document. That said I tend to keep an honest perspective about my approach to post processing. While I am not adverse to slight adjustments, the idea is to accurately portray what was actually there. If whatever it was that prompted me to take the photo does not come out, it is a failure on my part. Take a look at it and find where things went wrong and use that knowledge for the next time. I have been doing this a lot since I started LF. Right now I am far more competent with digital than LF. I am working hard to change that.

Wasn't Moonrise constructed from two or more shots/visits?
How did AA's nose get so busted? Or was it from having it pressed to the ground glass most of his life? (sorry couldn't resist)

Bob Salomon
17-Feb-2015, 12:46
Presented above are plenty well considered perspectives. Ethics involve intentions, perceptions, deceit, deception, accuracy and truth, right and wrong.

A good looking photograph, regardless of technique, are good for both the client with an otherwise empty wall and photographer. No deceit, no misrepresentation, no intentional fooling, no harm, no foul, no problem, no ethical issue, even if trade secrets are not revealed.

A good looking photograph, regardless of technique, are derelict, unethical, wrong, possibly criminal when deception is the photographer's or editor's intention. It's a lie, intentionally deceptive, harmful, problematic and an ethical issue.

Crime scene alterations, desert real estate with an imported branch held in the frame or oasis p-shopped into frame . . . know what you're looking at, know your photographer, know your photo editor and don't over-think it. Refine your craft and do your best because no one else will do your best for you.

Live it up.

Actually this all ignores a branch of photography, commonly employed in manufacturing, forensics, historical building photography and even with Space Shuttle landings. Close range photogrammetry where software knows the distortions in the lens and can plot accurate dimensions of everything in the scene. When done with film it required small targets to be placed within the scene for the software to measure and plot. But with digital the software can plot the actual pixels in the camera and make the plots and measurements from them. So regardless of focal length or angle or camera position the true positions and size of everything in the scene can be plotted as well as their position in relation to everything else in the photo.

Jmarmck
17-Feb-2015, 12:55
As long as the camera altitude and ground elevations (DEM) are known virtually anything can be ortho-rectified given the degree of sophistication in the current imagery processing software.

I have spent countless hours trying to rectify imagery that was not suitable for orthographic projections i.e. no lens information, poor GPS, course DEM, etc.

Kodachrome25
17-Feb-2015, 12:59
I talk about the "sales plan" sometimes in part to give some background on why I personally do what I do, I'm seeing it make more and more of a difference in that regard, especially lately.

As for the other stuff, while it is not lost on me, I'm not sure what else to say really other than I play by my rules and I find the difference it makes day to day not at all an "illusion"....;-)


We all make reality changing imaging choices all the time, whether conscious or not. Filters, ISO, focus, DOF, SS, resolution, film or digital many choices are made with any 'un-manipulated' image.

You have a good sales plan, and you tell us about it all the time. Nothing wrong at all about that either. Good for you!

Purity is an illusion.

Kirk Gittings
17-Feb-2015, 12:59
From my perspective the reason my photography is to invoke a response from the viewer. It is not a documentary or a legal document. That said I tend to keep an honest perspective about my approach to post processing. While I am not adverse to slight adjustments, the idea is to accurately portray what was actually there. If whatever it was that prompted me to take the photo does not come out, it is a failure on my part. Take a look at it and find where things went wrong and use that knowledge for the next time. I have been doing this a lot since I started LF. Right now I am far more competent with digital than LF. I am working hard to change that.



In a general sense my landscape photographs are about trying to get at the feel or the spirit of a place rather than a strictly accurate record of what it looks like on the average day. So I spend as much time as necessary finding the right angle and then the "right" light. In a few instances that has taken literally decades. So from conception these images are not intended as a strict document. I prefer LF film principally because I like the challenge and the tradition. There is little that I can do with film that I cannot do with digital these days.

Jmarmck
17-Feb-2015, 13:19
In a general sense my landscape photographs are about trying to get at the feel or the spirit of a place rather than a strictly accurate record of what it looks like on the average day. So I spend as much time as necessary finding the right angle and then the "right" light. In a few instances that has taken literally decades. So from conception these images are not intended as a strict document. I prefer LF film principally because I like the challenge and the tradition. There is little that I can do with film that I cannot do with digital these days.

Nicely put. I particularly like the decades comment. I am not so sure about the digital comment though. I still think that a 4x5 provides better sharpness and tonal and textural gradations than digital. It is just a matter of learning how to capture those qualities.

Kirk Gittings
17-Feb-2015, 13:27
I sometimes see great light for B&W when on the road going to or from a commercial job but stuck with only digital cameras with me. So through a lot of effort I have taught myself to make digital b&w capture work to pretty near my film capture standards.

Kodachrome25
17-Feb-2015, 13:37
I sometimes see great light for B&W when on the road going to or from a commercial job but stuck with only digital cameras with me. So through a lot of effort I have taught myself to make digital b&w capture work to pretty near my film capture standards.

I got tired of that happening and started carrying a Nikon F100 loaded with TMY2 with me on shoots with my digital bodies. Currently at 11,200 feet in a ski area with a D750/24-120 and a 3-lens Mamiya 6 kit, finally got some snow, oof!

Drew Wiley
17-Feb-2015, 13:37
Where do you draw the line? Emerson considered "sundowning" unethical, meaning dodging or burning; but he thought spotting out some annoying little highlight to be OK. And just from the title of this thread, I knew someone would pick up on "Moonrise" as an example of AA's alleged hypocrisy. But he did know how to impart the psychological "feel" for what he was actually viewing, and was not outright inventing some fictitious scene like so many of today's Fauxtoshoppers. I do know very skilled digital printers who go to great pains to use that kind of technology to make color prints as close as possible to the original scene, though any kind of print inevitably is a reinterpretation, and a lot has to do with the magician hiding their hand. I regard it as a philosophically unresolvable problem, in which each person makes or breaks their own rules. Of course, by this point everybody recognizes how much I detest people who outright butcher their subject with gooey faux slather, just to whore it out according to superficial stereotypes : too lazy to use real paint, in my opinion. Otherwise, the skill in which someone uses their tools is far more important than the choice of tools. I like the contemplative hands-on approach of darkroom
work and real film. And I do try to instill something of my own visual experience into each print, though it would be nonsense to call all of this outward optical
reality. Not only does something subconscious have to be an integral ingredient to an effective print, but the mere fact it is a print means that it's an abstraction
from reality, whatever that is. A painter can often do it better. But a painter is a painter, a photographer a photographer. And I despise photographs that are
wannabee paintings.

Kirk Gittings
17-Feb-2015, 13:46
I got tired of that happening and started carrying a Nikon F100 loaded with TMY2 with me on shoots with my digital bodies. Currently at 11,200 feet in a ski area with a D750/24-120 and a 3-lens Mamiya 6 kit, finally got some snow, oof!

As I only use a 4x5 in film (still own my hassy's but never use them) I don't have that luxury! Thing is by the time I load the truck with assistant, lighting gear, digital cameras and suitcases etc. the truck is full but not too full to where I have to stack things. This way they are properly accessible and organized for quick ease of use.

Kodachrome25
17-Feb-2015, 13:56
The most interesting part of this particular topic for me is how it can often be labled as flogging a dead horse and yet it comes up like clockwork. At least this one is civil, it can get kinda crazy at times.

Jmarmck
17-Feb-2015, 16:56
I was just curious what the community thought. I obviously jump the fence like a chicken chasing a junebug.
I appreciate the variety of answers and links. Gives me food for thought.

Iluvmyviewcam
17-Feb-2015, 17:44
The “I only shoot BW” photogs can sometimes do an image injustice more so than the photog that removes a stray cig or water bottle.

Take a look at this small format example. It shows how you can lose important information if you put your ego first.

http://testarchives.tumblr.com/image/110723876609

The above example it could have worked in BW or color. But when it goes BW you lose the bluish light on the upper left. The blue light signifies the prostitute depicted in the graf is a male transsexual. So, that's what is lost in the BW version.

Kirk Gittings
17-Feb-2015, 17:50
If one only shoots b&w, their image is b&w, then it was likely seen in b&w-at least I do and I think it is pretty common amongst hardcore b&w photographers. So while the scene was color the image was always b&w-no "injustice" to the image.

David_Senesac
25-Feb-2015, 14:51
Gee its been quite awhile since photographic web communities had another bout with these subjects. A whole new generation of photographers is of course always rising up and asking these same questions we old timers debated. Way back during the early Internet days Compuserve.com photo forum was where much of that occurred and I have been rather vocal since those times. I'm reading some of the same opinions and arguments in this thread that were tossed out back then.

At some point I got tired of repeating the same thing to each new crop of debaters so eventually stuck a 3 page essay on my website in 2005 that also describes how I personally address the game.

http://www.davidsenesac.com/david_philosophy1.html

A bit dated now a decade later but still much applies. 3 snippets from above link:

My work has been about making outdoor images with good resolution and color fidelity, able to be printed large, resulting in prints that reasonably represent moments in time naturally captured...

The often offered statement by those that advocate anything goes is that because prints can never look perfectly like the real thing, there isn't value in trying to record visual images faithfully. Of course a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater fallacy. Any person can readily tell the difference between a print in which the photographer tried to capture and post process a subject faithfully versus the vast majority that are manipulated...

I am one that has always stated any amount of manipulation in photography is perfectly fine and ethical. However when someone presents such work to the public they ought to at least in some small way let their public audience know what and how such work was created. In other words that photographers be honest and up front about their work. So that their public audience at least minimally understands what they are looking at without wondering or needing to pry such information out with questions.

Vaughn
25-Feb-2015, 15:34
So nobody burns in and nobody dodges...

I generally do not.

If a scene has an element I do not want in the image, I do not expose the film.

Randy Moe
25-Feb-2015, 16:42
I bet we suffer from image enhancement disease. Meaning as we constantly see more and more enhanced images our sense and brain interpretation is dulled, just like we acclimate to salt and sugar excess.

An example is nobody has real teeth in any mass consumed image or movie. The whiteness and toothy perfection shown to us hundreds of times a day has changed what we perceive as normal.

Take a good look at your own teeth in a mirror. Then watch TV or 'read' a magazine. :)

Rick A
20-Mar-2015, 18:52
Personally, I'm from the school of WYSIWYG. I almost never burn or dodge, I do spot if necessary. Today, I was stunned by something I read on another site. The poster wrote that he "hand colors" his photos with PS. HUH? How does that work? I hand color, with pastels, acrylics, or oils, etc. on my prints. I compose full frame, and only crop if it absolutely needs to be when printing, cropping should be done in camera. Just MHO.

erie patsellis
21-Mar-2015, 05:41
If one starts with the generally accepted ( in the art world) definition of art as the process of communicating an idea, concept or emotion through manipulation of a medium, then the means to just that is left to the artist personally. While I often limit myself to processes that mimic what can be done in a darkroom, if a concept is better communicated through manipulation, so what.

A dogmatic, purist approach may work for some, but not for me.

Ray Heath
21-Mar-2015, 06:04
Ethics doesn't exist in the digital domain...

Surely ethics has more to do with the operator than the medium.

I can't believe Saint Ansel didn't 'alter' a scene to present his version of 'realty'.

djdister
21-Mar-2015, 06:10
Surely ethics has more to do with the operator than the medium.

I can't believe Saint Ansel didn't 'alter' a scene to present his version of 'realty'.

Just go to post #38 in this thread...

Ray Heath
21-Mar-2015, 06:11
Personally, I'm from the school of WYSIWYG. I almost never burn or dodge, I do spot if necessary. Today, I was stunned by something I read on another site. The poster wrote that he "hand colors" his photos with PS. HUH? How does that work? I hand color, with pastels, acrylics, or oils, etc. on my prints. I compose full frame, and only crop if it absolutely needs to be when printing, cropping should be done in camera. Just MHO.

But isn't the act of selectively choosing what is in the picture area, by cropping or other technique, a form of altering reality.

Ray Heath
21-Mar-2015, 06:15
Just go to post #38 in this thread...

Yeh, good example, my bad I didn't read all the posts.

But which version is the 'real'? Is either of them a true representation of the real?

Peter De Smidt
21-Mar-2015, 08:21
Where's Morpheus when you need him?

Peter Lewin
22-Mar-2015, 09:31
I should have found this thread earlier! Since I've just finished reading Alinder's "Group f.64" it seems clear that you are questioning a philosophy of photography, rather than ethics. At it's simplest, the "pictorial school" would have had no concerns about removing offending objects from a photograph, the f.64 school probably would have. That isn't to say Mortensen was unethical, merely that he had a different philosophy about what a photograph could be than the "realist school." At the same time I use the word "probably," because Ansel Adams, one of the primary writers in the f.64 group, wasn't exactly preaching "straight photography" since he was willing to manipulate an image so that it conveyed what he felt, rather than literally what he saw.

When you ask about removing power lines from a landscape, the two names that jumped to mind were Ansel Adams and Robert Adams. Ansel was portraying the majesty of nature, so he avoided anything which showed the hand of man. While I doubt that he ever retouched out a power line, I suspect he would have been willing to do so. Robert Adams, one of the "new orthographers," specifically portrayed Western landscapes which showed the hand of man. For him, the power lines were part of his statement. In neither case was it a question of ethics, but of the message the photographer wished to convey.

And as a concluding question, to go back to pre-Photoshop days, would anyone have claimed that Jerry Uelsman was unethical? I believe the consensus would have been "imaginative" or "ground-breaking."

Jmarmck
22-Mar-2015, 09:36
That is a great response Peter. Thanks. In the end it is about the intent. There is no right or wrong. I guess the only wrong is when the photographer violates his/her own conscious.

Jac@stafford.net
22-Mar-2015, 10:22
And as a concluding question, to go back to pre-Photoshop days, would anyone have claimed that Jerry Uelsman was unethical? I believe the consensus would have been "imaginative" or "ground-breaking."

Uelsman was moved, in part, by Henry Peach Robinson's composites.

cowanw
22-Mar-2015, 10:24
While I doubt that he ever retouched out a power line, I suspect he would have been willing to do so."
Check out Winter Sunrise for retouching out the Hand of man.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/12/cartesian-blogging-part-3/

Randy Moe
22-Mar-2015, 10:36
Check out Winter Sunrise for retouching out the Hand of man.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/12/cartesian-blogging-part-3/

Good link with some extra at the beginning, I like AA's answer and solution. His 'repair' of damage, my terminology not AA's is born with the cleansing of weather and time. This too will pass.

cowanw
22-Mar-2015, 11:58
Have a look at the negative. Doesn't that horse on the right of the negative image look like it should come out white?

paulr
23-Mar-2015, 11:36
Ethics only come into play if you misrepresent what you have done.

I agree with this. But I'd suggest that it's complicated.

How do artists represent what they've done? Most of the expectations we set up for viewers are unspoken. They're created by context, including whatever the tradition the work seems to belong to. If our work follows the visual conventions of documentary photography—and if its presentation likewise follows those conventions (documentary-style editing and sequencing, documentary-style captions, etc..) then we are setting up certain expectations even if we don't state them overtly.

In this case, material editing of the image would violate many of those expectations.

Would it be unethical? I'd say, maybe—depending on all kinds of factors. But since this is about art, I'd worry more about it leading to disappointment. Like, the viewers' sense that this is not what it appeared to be ... and it appeared more interesting / impressive / poignant / important than what it really is.

Writers talk about a "contract with the reader." It's always an implied one, and the implication usually takes place within the first few lines or paragraphs. The contract is framed by answers to questions like "what is the genre?" and "what are the rules of the world being established here?" If Rhett Buttler turned out to be a warlord from the Andromeda Galaxy; if The Bunker ended in a rousing song and dance number ... these would constitutes breaks in the contract that would diminish the viewer's experience.

It's possible to break contracts in ways that surprise and delight ... ways that make something into more than what it originally appeared to be. This is perhaps not so easy to do. And it relies, of course, on the viewer's awareness that the contract was broken.

Things are complicated these days by the pervasiveness of material retouching. The assumption that a photograph represents the real isn't as strong as it once was, so the sense of violation is likewise less strong. This weakened trust is in many ways unfortunate, because it diminishes the potential for power that photography once wielded ... the ability to simply show that something exists. But we don't have the power to repair this.

We can't put all the blame on digital tools. They made these issues pervasive, but the issues have been around since the dawn of the medium.

Kirk Gittings
24-Mar-2015, 08:03
Things are complicated these days by the pervasiveness of material retouching. The assumption that a photograph represents the real isn't as strong as it once was, so the sense of violation is likewise less strong. This weakened trust is in many ways unfortunate, because it diminishes the potential for power that photography once wielded ... the ability to simply show that something exists. But we don't have the power to repair this.

We can't put all the blame on digital tools. They made these issues pervasive, but the issues have been around since the dawn of the medium.

well said.

paulr
24-Mar-2015, 10:14
There was a great show at the Met (http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2012/faking-it) a couple of years that looked at all these issues.

lesliekris
24-Mar-2015, 14:07
In this digital oriented day it is possible to do almost anything to an image.
This is fine and dandy but I have an ethics question.
It is more about opinions.

I scan a neg. I use some software to remove dust, hair and other imperfections.
I cannot imagine anyone getting bent about these actions but I guess there are a few.

I took a shot of a rock in early morning light. It was really nice in color and composition, good enough that I would consider a larger print.
The image was taken with digital camera but that really does not matter here.
Behind the rock and between the rock behind that was a single power pole. While taking the shot I was mentally working out why someone would place the pole in such a difficult spot. Then again I have seen worse idiocy. Basically, the pole ruined the shot. The ability to remove the pole is there. It can be removed with tools so good that only a digital algorithm could find evidence of tinkering.

Here is the question: Do you consider it unethical to remove such objects changing the photo where it no longer represents reality?
Where would you draw the line?

While driving across the SW this last trip, I found there were power lines in some otherwise exceptional landscapes. Would you bypass such a scene even though those power lines can be easily removed?

What about adjusting latitude errors in an image, increase/decreasing foreground/background exposure/tones/textures? What about simpler sharpening?

Just curious how you would feel about such modifications.

I choose to point my camera a particular small pretty area in a vast boring landscape
http://rockbullet.tk/87/o.png

Randy Moe
24-Mar-2015, 14:38
I often post very highly stylised images on FB HERE (https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheBloomingdale/), for a couple reasons. I seem to get much better response to PS trick pics, than 'straight' images.

#1 More attention and positive feedback.

#2 As a visual lesson that a cell phone image is usually dull.

#3 Some ask how I did that? In the time of Instagram, I am happy I can distort reality enough for the kids to notice.

Warning! These are examples and not LF, but they illustrate my point.

Images are of construction of the new park outside my door which is dull grey, dirty and very boring to look at. The last image shows what we lost in colorful mural, when we sandblasted off 3 miles of 'Art'. One is X-Ray, the rest extremely tiny sensor, probably my best camera...

I am starting to understand we need to post examples, with endless discussion. :)

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